back to article Your McDonald's demo has expired. For full functionality, please purchase a licence or try another fast-food joint

There is a saying about networking fails: "It's not DNS. It can't be DNS. It was DNS." So far for The Register's column of retail calamity, it's McDonald's. It's nearly always McDonald's. Today's tale of titsup continues to mine the deep seam of pure borkage that lurks beneath the golden arches. This time we venture outside, …

  1. PM from Hell
    Facepalm

    Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

    Or install the software without the license key. Every single time I've given in and done this the demo expired before the license key arrived. Delay the roll out, if it's an opening escalate it to the business sponsor, by pass procurement rules, borrow a company credit card, use personal relationships with the vendor. If all else fails use your credit card. This is the project managers responsibility I have never asked a techie to do any of that.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

      I know of several automotive and computer manufacturing plants that used demo software on the production line about 20 years ago. It was often my job to call the supplier and get a key asap. When the likes of HP, Dell or IBM absolutely have to get a line running today you sort it and worry about licenses later.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

        I disagree. You do it right the first time and having the licenses you need when commissioning the system is very important. If you wait to sort it out, the line goes down in a short period of time because it doesn't get taken care of and then you have a full compliment of staff standing around looking at screens notifying them that management has borked up something else.

        If you have to get C-Level management out of bed to have them phone in a credit card, you do that. You can survive any backlash from that, though you shouldn't get any. What you won't do as well with as the commissioning lead is when you don't do it right and an irate customer is on the line with your boss (or their boss) yelling about idle costs of hundreds of thousands an hour and loss of production (and no way they'll meet their numbers to get their quarterly bonus and they're pissed).

        1. dboyes

          Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

          > I disagree. You do it right the first time and having the licenses you need when commissioning

          > the system is very important. If you wait to sort it out, the line goes down in a short period of

          > time because it doesn't get taken care of and then you have a full compliment of staff standing

          > around looking at screens notifying them that management has borked up something else.

          Preach it, brother.

          I'll add that you also design and script the d*rn thing so it's fire-and-forget to do an install. It may take a little longer to roll out, but you're not wasting pub time on figuring out what some yahoo forgot to do this time. Borked machine? Fix: wipe the machine and reprovision. Installers that insist on a GUI are evil and anyone designing such a crock should be forced to provision it for a medium-sized university to learn the error of their ways.

        2. Wzrd1

          Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

          If you wait to sort it out, the line goes down in a short period of time because it doesn't get taken care of and then you have a full compliment of staff standing around looking at screens notifying them that management has borked up something else.

          Yeah, lived through that when our web filtering service license expired. Leadership was warned, foot dragging ensued, one morning all were greeted by zero internet connectivity, as if web filtering was down, regulations stated it was to fail secure, not fail insecure and endanger the entire enterprise.

          Took a couple of days, the leader who dragged feet was assured that the single star he was wearing would be the only star he'd ever get to wear and only if he retired, per the chap wearing four stars for being extra good in kindergarten.

          Plenty of defenses against things military, zero defense against stupidity.

    2. This is not a drill

      Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

      A lot of software defaults to "Demo" mode until a key is installed.

      Since McD's probably have hundreds of similar terminals it's probably a procedural issue rather than project. An engineer has probably flashed the box, put the standard 'gold build' image on as per instructions and then forgot to assign it a valid product key.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

        These installs are all three-ring-binder jobs. There should be a spot on the front page inside for things such as store number, number of stations/type of station and the license codes that are all filled out before the install even begins as part of normal routine. It's not like they aren't doing the exact same thing every time.

    3. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

      See it often at one McD's I go to. 2 tills. One will show it for a week or so, then a month later the other will be showing it for a week...

      1. JakeMS
        Joke

        Re: Never ever ever ever install a demo version on a production box

        @Chloe: That's what they want you to think. Really it's the same system doing it, they just switched the machines to make it look like they're fixing it.

  2. Aaiieeee

    Demo food

    The food is what it is.. my main issue is that after consuming something from this establishment you are faminshed again within 30 minutes.

    If I just need to get my teeth into something and I dont much care for what it is, a 99p burger doesn't break the bank and can be found basically anywhere.

    1. ClockworkOwl
      Stop

      Re: Demo food

      Personally, I find hunger more nourishing...

      But YSMV!

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Demo food

        "Personally, I find hunger more nourishing..."

        CHOW™ contained spun, plaited, and woven protein molecules, capped and coded, carefully designed to be ignored by even the most ravenous digestive tract enzymes; no-cal sweeteners; mineral oils replacing vegetable oils; fibrous materials, colourings, and flavourings. The end result was a foodstuff almost indistinguishable from any other except for two things. Firstly, the price, which was slightly higher, and secondly, the nutritional content, which was roughly equivalent to that of a Sony Walkman.

        - Good Omens, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Demo food

          I try to avoid eating on an empty stomach. (See icon)

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Demo food

      Despite all of their culinary crimes, I do have to say that The Evil Beef Clown does do a decent cup of coffee.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Demo food

        It's probably made from all the bits of cow that don't go into the burger.

        1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

          Decent coffee in McD's marks the irresistible rise of...

          ... the bean to cup machine.

        2. wolfetone
          WTF?

          Re: Demo food

          "It's probably made from all the bits of cow that don't go into the burger."

          You mean, there's stuff that DOESN'T go in to the burger?!

          1. My-Handle

            Re: Demo food

            Yep. Integrity, care, taste etc...

          2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Re: Demo food

            Ok I'll bite.

            Good cuts of beef...?

            Anything they haven't scraped off the slaughterhouse floor...?

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

              Re: Demo food

              Beef?

              Who told you they use beef?

              Evsr seen any raccoons around a McDonalds?

            2. ricardian

              Re: Demo food

              Google "machine recovered meat" !

          3. jmch Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Demo food

            "You mean, there's stuff that DOESN'T go in to the burger?!"

            Yes, the meat

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Demo food

          all the bits of cow that don't go into the burger

          There are no bits that don't go into the burger (except the moo!). Pink slurry anyone?

          1. Throgmorton Horatio III

            Re: Demo food

            "Pink slurry anyone?"

            And I thought that was the strawberry milkshake. :-p

            1. E 5

              Re: Demo food

              That would imply their "milk"shake machines worked...

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Demo food

          A drink made from all the bits of the cow that don't go in the burger? That sounds less like coffee than Bov... I mean, generic beef extract drink.

          Allegedly.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Demo food

        do a decent cup of coffee.

        If your definition of 'decent' equates to bitter, burnt-tasting coffee that you can barely choke down' - sure.

        Both times I've been desperate for caffeine and only had recourse to a Micky-D, the coffee has been excrable.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Demo food

          execrable... cow execrable.

        2. Jeffrey Nonken

          Re: Demo food

          I like their mochas. Mostly because they're wayyyyy too sweet.

          I'm sure the excessive sugar goes a long way towards covering up the flavor.

          ...I tend to avoid them. One thing I don't need in my life right now is more sugar.

        3. Imhotep

          Re: Demo food

          Here in the US they decided at one time that what people wanted has "hot", so that is what they got: too hot to drink, too dangerous to have in a moving vehicle and not convincingly coffee like.

          Since then - at least for me - it has improved on all counts. More of a light mellow blend here - certainly not the bitter, burnt brew pushed by Starbucks and their ilk.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Demo food

            In my part of the US, McDonald's coffee is absolutely terrible. I dislike Starbucks coffee (too burnt, as you say), but I'll take that over McDonald's any day of the week.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Demo food

          I'm with you there. I have availed myself of McD's coffee precisely twice in my life and in neither case would I describe the liquid I was handed as "coffee". I drink actual coffee from actual coffee beans daily, so I know what coffee tastes like and that wasn't it. Expecting coffee and getting whatever the fuck McD's serve is indeed excrable. Wouldn't be so bad if the called it a "caffeine infusion" or something.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Demo food

        Agreed. Rotten Ronnies makes a solid coffee.

    3. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Demo food

      As in demolition?

  3. IGotOut Silver badge

    That looks like...

    A Win95 / 98 / 2000 dialogue box

    XP onwards tended to have rounded bevels.

    Either that or it was done in a very early VB.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: That looks like...

      XP without the desktop theming cruft enabled looks like 2000 and is lighter weight (I think desktop theming needed a service or two extra to be running).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That looks like...

        Indeed - additional resources for something that provides no material benefit for how your software runs....'tis the Windows way

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: That looks like...

          You mean like the frosted glass effect of Aero where everybody and their mother is pissing and moaning about the fact that the current flat design is less pretty?

          1. Zarno Bronze badge
            Mushroom

            Re: That looks like...

            I use Autodesk Inventor for various things to do with the side gig.

            The Win7 install on the side gig machine had the "Aero" options turned off because it doesn't perk my coffee so to speak.

            All was well, till an update of Inventor HSM responded by not showing certain screen overlay controls for backplot and simulation of toolpaths till the bloody transparency/aero was turned on again.

            That's my moaning and micturition about that little bit of fluffery.

            Icon because that's what I sometimes feel like doing to the GUI world, run DBAN and bring it back to command prompt to re-evolve.

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: That looks like...

            I don't piss and moan about the current flat design because it's ugly (I mean, it is, but I don't care). I piss and moan about it because it's harder to use and actively gets in my way.

  4. Eighth

    Spotted the same thing myself a couple months ago; https://www.reddit.com/r/PBSOD/comments/cercy3/mcdonalds_kpos_using_demo_license/

  5. Hans 1 Silver badge

    There is a saying about networking fails: "It's not DNS. It can't be DNS. It was DNS."

    Only Internet Explorer using Window Cleaner and Suface Experts say that, not the guyz actually fixing the problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Substitute DNS for IIS and you've got my life as an NGINX admin summed up.

      Me: *puts down his Gin to pick up the phone* "Afternoon, whagwan?"

      .NOB Developer: "We're getting an NGINX gateway error, can you have a look at the NGINX proxies?"

      Me: Rule 1 of NGINX troubleshooting. It's probably not NGINX.

      .NOB: But the error is coming from NGINX.

      Me: Rule 1 dude. I only follow, I don't make them. Check your app pools.

      .NOB: Ah. Yeah. Sorry.

      Me: *scratching out an invoice* No worries, it happens. *hangs up, resumes Gin*

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Kinda...

        My ISP was accidentally deleted off of Openreach's backhaul. As it's the backbone of the UK, if your not on it, I don't even know if you can get connected on the "last mile" to consumers (FTTP not withstanding).

        It was "impossible", until 3 hours later, when they realised an intern/trainee had logged into, not the training, but the live system by mistake and deleted the ISPs off the records/network. Still, I guess they did learn a lot that day!

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Kinda...

          It was "impossible", until 3 hours later, when they realised an intern/trainee had logged into, not the training, but the live system by mistake and deleted the ISPs off the records/network. Still, I guess they did learn a lot that day!

          Sounds like the stuff of a "Who, Me?" article.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An old boss forbade the use of expiring license keys.

    He simply said for every dollar they "save" in enforcing payment, they loose 10 in goodwill and overtime needed to fix the inevitable SNAFUs you will get.

    His boss overruled him, and sure enough, come Boxing Day, there was a call out, a 100 mile trip to a customers (because the failed app wasn't on a networked box) and a bill for the building management team who had to despatch someone to open up.

    Since we didn't have any techs on out of hours contracts, that was a pretty penny.

    By all means, show a message somewhere - embarrass them into paying. But never, ever, kill the app. It will hurt you far more than it hurts them.

    1. Cessquill

      Re: An old boss forbade the use of expiring license keys.

      You didn't write WinZip, did you?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An old boss forbade the use of expiring license keys.

      We eventually put licence-based blocking code into a product. Not because the customers abused it, but because the sales people (especially in Asia) did. They used to give our product away to help clinch a hardware deal, installing it 'free' on the system at the customer site, and we then had to field the support calls from customers who genuinely believed they were running a valid configuration. Not only that but we never got credit for the sale, so always had problems justifying hiring staff, even though we had one of the best "selling" products in the company. We realised that we were getting credit for about 15% of the actual shipments of our product. At least with a license key we could discount the deal if we wanted to, but we knew it had happened.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: An old boss forbade the use of expiring license keys.

        They used to give our product away to help clinch a hardware deal,

        I'm guessing you did not work for Autonomy.

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    <i.Have you spotted a Horseman of the Borkopalypse</i>

    Excellent.

  8. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    The Taint!

  9. Doctor Huh?

    I think we need a new acronym... POS is doubly accurate...

    After a lifetime of slinging software, I didn't blink at all when I saw "POS" in the story. It did take a few seconds to realize that, in this context, it meant "point of sale." Perhaps "point of purchase" might be used instead, leading to "That POP package is a real POS."

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: I think we need a new acronym... POS is doubly accurate...

      POP is already a multi-user acronym - Post Office Protocol and Point of Presence to name but two.

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: I think we need a new acronym... POS is doubly accurate...

        The worst is TOS - Time Of Sale, Terms Of Service and Tomb Of Sargeras.

        It's entirely possible that the overlap of contract lawyers working in marketing who play World of Warcraft is pretty small though...

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: I think we need a new acronym... POS is doubly accurate...

          For me it's "SLA" (as in Service Level Agreement). Even all these years later I still will think "Symbionese Liberation Army" (and that dates me right there).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I think we need a new acronym... POS is doubly accurate...

            Try "Moro Islamic Liberation Front" in the Philippines, commonly known as MILF. Mail filter checking for naughty words regularly tut-tuted over this one.

        2. Hero Protagonist

          Re: I think we need a new acronym... POS is doubly accurate...

          Also The Original Series, in the context of a Star Trek discussion

  10. Winkypop Silver badge
    Windows

    "those content to let their vehicles smell like ground-up cow."

    Or worse, those content to stink up a taxiing aircraft.

    Arm doors and upchuck!

    1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: "those content to let their vehicles smell like ground-up cow."

      A couple I knew had their car converted to run on recycled fast-food cooking oil. But during the last few minutes of any trip, the car ran on gasoline so that they wouldn't arrive smelling like a McDonalds.

      1. lowwall

        Re: "those content to let their vehicles smell like ground-up cow."

        I imagine that would be diesel for the last few minutes. And they probably actually did it to increase starting reliability.

        1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: "those content to let their vehicles smell like ground-up cow."

          You are probably correct about diesel. I don't remember them mentioning the starting.

          1. CRConrad

            Re: "...mentioning the starting."

            You want to run on regular diesel fuel the last bit of the previous drive precisely in order to facilitate starting the next time: Have the pipes from tank through fuel pump, injection pump, high-pressure lines and injector nozzles all filled up with the regular stuff, so you won't have to expel the canola oil and saturate the whole pipeline with filling-station stuff while grinding on the starter motor. I'd guess.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same issue yesterday morning at the Rochdale, Sandbrook Park, branch went I went through for breakfast.

    Maybe specific to one franchisee and all their stores?

    1. Gnoitall

      That's my theory. Franchisees are supposed to do everything the "McDonald's Way", but enforcement is variable. Maybe the franchise's management thought they could skate on a demo version (not listening to any professional IT support they may have had).

      Franchise operators are notorious for pushing the envelope in favor of profits in ways that company stores are never allowed to even think about.

  12. rcxb Silver badge

    Fill me in on your new vision

    Wake me up with indecision

    Help me trust your mighty wisdom

    Yes I eat cow, I am not proud

  13. Screwed

    McD do need a demo. For their customers.

    To show them how to park in the car park, not outside on the road right on top of yellow lines - double and single, blocking roads and entrances. And how to use indicators when turning into McD's car park.

    And another to show them how to use waste bins.

    To be fair to McD, they do send someone out to clean up some of the litter but not before much of it has blown all over.

    (You guessed, I live too close to a branch.)

  14. martinusher Silver badge

    It might just be a phone home problem

    Since this software looks really old I'd venture to suggest that the supplier has long gone to the great merger in the sky leaving system that needs to verify its license keys from time to time. This will be a meaningless program on some company computer that sits not doing much except replying 'OK' to anyone who asks. Then one day things get tidied up....

    Its not that far fetched an idea, too. Way back in the early 90s I worked at a company that did their embedded development on Sun workstations -- lots of good stuff, the whole lot wouldn't look out of place today except that the remote servers were on site because it was 'back in the day'. One day the entire build system stopped working. Panic. A bit of patient tracing led to a PC lurking the a corner of the server room and a five line script that didn't do much on that system - except that all builds used it. It was one of those things left over from an even earlier incarnation of the company, it had always worked so it got forgotten about. Until it stopped.

  15. razorfishsl

    You know what happened.......

    2019...

    the key they were using..., the key algorithm has just lapped & now the key hash is wrong...

    Seriously what cretin runs software from 2007.....

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